A.J. Hawk

A.J. Hawk To Retire

A.J. Hawk is calling it a career. The linebacker tells Albert Breer of The MMQB (on Twitter) that he plans on filing retirement paperwork this offseason. A.J. Hawk (vertical)

[RELATED: Steve Smith Announces Retirement]

Hawk anchored the Packers’ linebacking core for years and barely missed a game from 2006 through 2014. While he never had gaudy sack numbers, he was a tackling machine and an integral part of the Packers’ Super Bowl winning team in the 2010 season. When he lost a step on the other side of 30, he parted ways with the Packers and found his way to the Bengals in 2015. This season, he hooked on with the Falcons, but he wound up playing in just one game.

We here at PFR wish Hawk the best in retirement.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Falcons Sign Stevan Ridley, Cut A.J. Hawk

The Falcons announced that they have signed running backs Terron Ward and Stevan Ridley. To make room, Atlanta cut linebacker A.J. Hawk and offensive lineman Mike Person. In a related move, the Falcons also signed running back Jhurell Pressley to the practice squad. Stevan Ridley (vertical)

The Lions signed Ridley this offseason with the idea that he would fulfill their “big back” role. Instead, Zach Zenner broke out in the summer and Ridley was cut loose in late August. Soon after, he was picked up by the Colts, but Indianapolis dropped him before the 75-man deadline. A former third-round pick, Ridley averaged 5.1 yards per carry in limited action during his rookie season in 2011, then exploded for 1,263 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns in 2012. However, fumbling issues landed him on the bench in New England, and a devastating ACL/MCL injury limited him in both 2014 and 2015.

Now, the Falcons are hoping that Ridley can recapture some of his old magic. The veteran tailback, along with the newly-promoted Ward, will try to fill the gap while Tevin Coleman deals with a hamstring issue.

Hawk, 33 in January, was released by the Bengals early on this past offseason and found only mild interest on the free agent market. Hawk signed a one-year deal with the Falcons for the veteran’s minimum on Oct. 4, though that deal included a $15K signing bonus. The veteran appeared in only one game for Atlanta and he did not record an official statistic.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: RG3, Packers, Cardinals, Texans, Hawk

RG3‘s shoulder will be re-evaluated this week to gauge where he is in his recovery, Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon-Journal tweets. The evaluation may determine whether surgery is needed for the Browns quarterback.

In the Browns’ season opener against the Eagles, Griffin completed 12 of 26 passes for 190 yards and added 37 rushing yards, but suffered a fractured coracoid bone in his left shoulder. He could technically return around the middle of the season, but early word is that he likely won’t see the field until 2017.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • The Packers plan to stand pat with Richard Rodgers and Justin Perillo at tight end for the time being, as ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky writes. Starter Jared Cook will be sidelined from 4-to-6 weeks, but the Packers feel they can get by if Cook’s layoff is on the early end of that range. “That’s the plan as I stand here today,” coach Mike McCarthy said.
  • Punter Drew Butler — whom the Cardinals waived on Tuesday — can re-sign with Arizona in six weeks, reports Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com (Twitter link). That means Butler and the Cards must have agreed to three-week injury settlement, because a player cut with a settlement must wait an additional three weeks on top of the time of the original settlement before re-signing with the club.
  • Texans running back Jonathan Grimes (fractured fibula) will likely be out at least a few more weeks, Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle tweets.
  • A.J. Hawk‘s one-year deal with the Falcons is for the veteran’s minimum, but does contain a $15K signing bonus, according to Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com. Hawk will play middle and outside linebacker for Atlanta, per McClure.
  • The Texans’ one-year deal with defensive end Antonio Smith is for the veteran’s minimum, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Prorated for 13 games, Smith will count for just under $500K on Houston’s salary cap
  • Former Green Bay defensive end Josh Boyd will work out for the Seahawks on Monday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Boyd suffered an ankle injury in 2015 that limited him to just two games. In 2014, Boyd tallied 22 tackles and one pass deflection in 15 games (four starts).

Falcons Sign A.J. Hawk

The Falcons have signed linebacker A.J. Hawk, according to his agent Mike McCartney (via Twitter). Atlanta was reported to have interest in the veteran earlier today and it didn’t take long for a deal to materialize. A.J. Hawk (vertical)

At the age of 32 (33 in January), Hawk may not be the player that he once was. However, he brings a ton of experience to the table along with his hard-nosed playing style. In his third year in the NFL, Hawk helped the Packers capture the Super Bowl championship following the 2010 season. In total, he spent nine years with Green Bay but he was not retained after a so-so 2014 season. Last year, he hooked on with the Bengals and he started a career-low eleven games.

Now, Hawk has a new opportunity in Atlanta thanks to the rash of injuries they have suffered at linebacker. Hawk will presumably suit up for Atlanta on Sunday when they try to advance to 4-1 against the Broncos.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Falcons Have Interest In A.J. Hawk

The Falcons have interest in veteran linebacker A.J. Hawk, sources tell Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The team has four linebackers injured, so Hawk would make a lot of sense for Dan Quinn‘s squad. One month into the season, Atlanta finds itself without Sean Weatherspoon, Paul Worrilow, De’Vondre Campbell, and Deion Jones. Jones suffered a calf injury in Week 4 and his status for this upcoming week is currently unknown. A.J. Hawk (Vertical)

Hawk, who spent the first nine years of his NFL career in Green Bay, signed a two-year deal with the Bengals in 2015, but ultimately only played out half of that contract before being given his release. In his lone season in Cincinnati, Hawk was a part-time contributor at linebacker, picking up 24 tackles and a sack.

Hawk auditioned for Miami roughly three weeks ago, but that workout did not lead to a deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dolphins To Work Out A.J. Hawk

The Dolphins will look into adding some depth at linebacker, as the club is expected to work out veteran LB A.J. Hawk this week, a source tells Joe Schad of the Palm Beach Post. Because Week 1 has already passed, Miami could sign Hawk without having to guarantee his salary for the entire season.A.J. Hawk (Vertical)

[RELATED: Mike Pouncey Could Miss Several More Weeks]

Although linebacker Jelani Jenkins underwent a knee procedure near the end of August, he was still available against the Seahawks on Sunday, and ended up playing 33 total snaps. However, if Jenkins does go down at some point, the Dolphins might not feel comfortable with Spencer Paysinger in reserve. Hawk wouldn’t be asked to play in sub packages, as Kiko Alonso and Koa Misi stay on the field in passing situations.

Hawk, who spent the first nine years of his NFL career in Green Bay, signed a two-year deal with the Bengals in 2015, but ultimately only played out half of that contract before being given his release. In his lone season in Cincinnati, Hawk was a part-time contributor at linebacker, picking up 24 tackles and a sack.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

How The Cowboys Could Replace Rolando McClain

For the second consecutive season, Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain will serve a suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on substance abuse. In 2015, Dallas only had to survive without McClain for a quarter of the season, but given that McClain is facing a 10-game ban for 2016, the Cowboys will need to more seriously consider how they’re going to make up for the loss of their middle linebacker.

We’ve examined how Dallas might go about finding a replacement for McClain, looking at players already on the Cowboys’ roster, free agents sitting on the open market, and veterans who could be on the roster bubble with their respective clubs. Let’s dive in…

Internal options:

The primary name being floated to replace McClain in the middle is third-year linebacker Anthony Hitchens, whom the Cowboys selected in the fourth round of the 2014 draft. Thing is, Hitchens was already a starter — he played on the inside in Anthony Hitchens (Vertical)McClain’s absence last year, and then moved to the outside, ultimately seeing action on about half of Dallas’ defensive snaps. So if Hitchens is being counted on to man the middle full-time, including in sub packages, the Cowboys would need to find a replacement at strong-side linebacker, meaning Kyle Wilber and/or Andrew Gachkar could see meaningful snaps after spending most of their respective careers as special teams players.

[RELATED: Updated Dallas Cowboys depth chart]

Gachkar, meanwhile, is another option to fill in at middle linebacker, and he has experience at the position. If chosen, Gachkar would likely be a two-down player, as Pro Football Focus’ grades have shown him to be effective against the run but a liability in pass coverage. The 27-year-old has never been a major defensive contributor — he was forced to step into the starting lineup when the Chargers suffered a variety of injuries at the linebacker position in 2014, but even then, he only played on 36.5% of San Diego’s defensive snaps.

The “wild card” in this race is second-year player Mark Nzeocha, according to Bryan Broaddus of the Cowboys’ website. A seventh-round pick in last year’s draft, Nzeocha only appeared in two games during his rookie season, managing 14 snaps, all of which came on special teams. Extremely athletic, Nzeocha was all over the field at Wyoming, playing safety and all three linebacker positions. His learning curve might be steep, but he clearly has all the physical tools to play the position.

A source tells PFR that the Cowboys are, for the most part, satisfied with the current state of their linebacker room, and are looking forward to have their young players compete for playing time while McClain is suspended. Dallas, says the source, hasn’t shown a lot of interest in scouring the free agent market for substitutes, so one of Hitchens, Gachkar, or Nzeocha might be the favorite to earn significant snaps this fall.

Free agents:

Donald Butler — After selecting Denzel Perryman in 2015 and Joshua Perry in this year’s draft, the Chargers parted ways with Butler, who had spent the past five seasons with the club. At age-27, Butler is the youngest free agent option on this list, but he’s coming off the worst season of his career, having posted just 40 tackles during the 2016 campaign. Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune accused Butler of “losing interest” after receiving a massive extension prior to the 2014 season, so perhaps some other clubs have made that same assessment.Justin Durant (vertical)

Justin Durant — Durant started 12 games for the Falcons last year, but prior to his time in Atlanta he spent two seasons with the Cowboys, so at the very least he’d offer some familiarity with Dallas defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli‘s playbook. Versatility is another point in Durant’s favor, as he played mostly inside linebacker with Atlanta and Detroit, roamed the middle during his Jacksonville tenure, and moved between both positions with the Cowboys.

A.J. Hawk — The Bengals signed Hawk to a two-year deal before the 2015 campaign, but despite injuries limiting fellow linebacker Vontaze Burfict to just 10 games, Hawk rarely saw the field, playing on roughly a quarter of Cincinnati’s defensive snaps. Hawk recently told Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer that although he’s aware a club might not express interest until late in camp (or perhaps after the season begins), he’s staying in shape in the hopes of receiving a phone call.

David Hawthorne — Like Durant, Hawthorne offers positional versatility, having seen action at both inside and outside linebacker. In 2015, Hawthorne was shifted to the weak side in favor of rookie Stephone Anthony, but was then benched, declared inactive, and ultimately released after an unproductive season. Still, he’s got 83 career starts under his belt, and would presumably feel comfortable in the middle of the Dallas defense.

Keep reading for more external options that could be on the Cowboys’ radar…

Read more

Extra Points: Boldin, Hawk, Mathis, Chargers

When I ranked Anquan Boldin as the second-best offensive free agent left on the market, I noted that even as he ages, the veteran receiver continues to maintain consistent production, managing at least 65 receptions in each of the past five seasons, and averaging nearly 1,000 yards and five scores during that period. So why is he still unsigned? Albert Breer of the TheMMQB.com wanted an answer to that question, and asked a scouting director for a response. The executive’s position on Boldin? “He’s old and can’t run.” 

With that blunt answer out of the way, let’s take a look at several more notes from around the league…

  • Like Boldin, A.J. Hawk is another veteran that remains unsigned, but he tells Jim Owcazrski of the Cincinnati Enquirer that he’s staying in shape and hoping for an interested team to contact him later in the summer. While he allowed that such a phone call might not come until late in camp or even after the start of the regular season (when veteran salaries are no longer guaranteed), Hawk maintained that he has not yet set a timetable for retirement.
  • Robert Mathis hasn’t yet reached free agency like Boldin and Hawk, but the edge rusher is set hit the open market at season’s end. As Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star writes, the Colts haven’t shown any proclivity for hanging on to household names simply for the fanfare, so Mathis might be playing his last season with the club. Could retirement be an option? “I’ll tally it up at the end of the season,” said Mathis. “If I feel I should walk away, then that’s what I should do. But if not, I’m gonna keep playing.”
  • The Chargers‘ decision on whether or not to stay in San Diego could percolate through the end of the 2016 regular season, sources tell Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link), who outlines some of the potential legal challenges that could stifle the team’s options. The decision can’t wait for too long, as the Chargers’ to move to Los Angeles expires on January 15, 2017.
  • ESPN.com’s NFL writers each listed a veteran who could be on the roster bubble, and some surprising names made the list, including Barkevious Mingo, Justin Hunter, Marquess Wilson, and Matt Elam.

Bengals Release A.J. Hawk

The Bengals have created a little cap room and helped to clear a linebacker logjam by releasing veteran defender A.J. Hawk, the team announced today (via Twitter). Alex Marvez of FOX Sports first reported (via Twitter) that Hawk would be cut by Cincinnati.A.J. Hawk (Vertical)

[RELATED: Bengals sign Karlos Dansby]

Hawk, who spent the first nine years of his NFL career in Green Bay, signed a two-year deal with the Bengals in 2015, but ultimately only played out half of that contract before being given his release. In his lose season in Cincinnati, Hawk was a part-time contributor at linebacker, picking up 24 tackles and a sack.

Hawk’s contract called for a $1.1MM base salary, $200K in per-game roster bonuses, and a $100K workout bonus for 2016. Because none of that money has been paid yet, and the contract didn’t feature a signing bonus, the Bengals will clear Hawk’s entire $1.4MM cap hit from their books by releasing him. The former fifth overall pick won’t have to clear waivers, so he’ll be immediately eligible to sign with a new team.

Even without Hawk in the mix, the Bengals have several options for their three starting linebacker spots. The club added Karlos Dansby in free agency, and also have Rey Maualuga, Vontaze Burfict, and Vincent Rey on the roster, though Burfict will serve a three-game suspension to open the regular season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Contract Details: Maclin, Thomas, Hughes, Odrick

Here are a few details on some of this week’s noteworthy new contracts:

AFC deals:

  • Jeremy Maclin, WR (Chiefs): Five years, $55MM. $22.5MM fully guaranteed. $12MM signing bonus (Twitter links via Joel Corry of CBSSports.com).
  • Julius Thomas, TE (Jaguars): Five years, $46MM. $21MM fully guaranteed. $28.3MM in first three years (Twitter link via Albert Breer of the NFL Network).
  • Jerry Hughes, DE (Bills): Five years, $45MM base value. $7MM signing bonus. $11.775MM fully guaranteed. $1MM annually in sack-based incentives (Twitter links via Corry and Tom Pelissero of USA Today).
  • Jared Odrick, DL (Jaguars): Five years, $42.5MM. $22.5MM guaranteed. $5MM roster bonus in 2015 (Twitter link via Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun).
  • Brandon Flowers, CB (Chargers): Four years, $36.4MM base value. $20.5MM guaranteed. $8MM signing bonus. $2.25MM first-year cap hit (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Curtis Lofton, LB (Raiders): Three years, $18MM base value. $10MM guaranteed. $6.5MM in first year, including $3.5MM roster bonus (Twitter links via Pelissero and Wilson).
  • Kendall Langford, DT (Colts): Four years, $17.2MM base value. $2.5MM guaranteed (Twitter link via Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports).
  • Brian Hoyer, QB (Texans): Two years, $10.5MM base value. $3.75MM roster bonus to be paid this month. $5.25MM annual cap hits (Twitter link via John McClain of the Houston Chronicle).
  • A.J. Hawk, LB (Bengals): Two years, $3.25MM base value. $500K guaranteed (Twitter link via Pelissero).

NFC deals:

  • Torrey Smith, WR (49ers): Five years, $40MM base value. $8MM signing bonus. $8.75MM fully guaranteed. $3.6MM first-year cap hit (Twitter links via Corry).
  • Bryan Bulaga, T (Packers): Five years, $33.75MM base value. $8MM signing bonus. $3.6MM first-year cap hit (Twitter links via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com).
  • Stephen Paea, DT (Washington): Four years, $21MM. $7.85MM guaranteed. $5MM signing bonus (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Corey Peters, DT (Cardinals): Three years, $9MM base value. $5.75MM guaranteed. $2MM signing bonus (Twitter links via Wilson).
  • Justin Durant, LB (Falcons): Three years, $10.8MM base value. $4.5MM in 2015. $3MM available in incentives (Twitter link via Pelissero).
  • Dwan Edwards, DT (Panthers): Two years, $4MM base value. $1MM signing bonus (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Sean Weatherspoon, LB (Cardinals): One year, $3.58MM base value. $1.25MM signing bonus (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Major Wright, S (Buccaneers): Two years, $3MM base value (Twitter link via Pelissero).